Kettering University alumni chosen for Ford’s Thirty Under 30 program to serve their community

Two Kettering University alumni were chosen to participate in a year-long program at Ford Motor Company to get involved and make a difference in their communities.

Andrew Steinman ‘15 and Chris Craft ‘11 were chosen for Ford’s Thirty Under 30 program, a corporate leadership course created to empower young employees to work with and learn about philanthropic organizations. Thirty Under 30 fellows are made up of 30 diverse U.S. employees, under the age of 30, selected from more than 300 competitive applications across the country.

The program, a year-long course run by the Ford Motor Company Fund, was announced last year by Executive Chairman Bill Ford. The program represents the company’s ongoing initiative to develop young leaders who also serve their communities.

“The program teaches ‘design thinking,’ a way to think outside the box that really empowers you to gain empathy for the people you are working with,” said Craft, interior lighting CAE at Ford. “There are no yes or no questions. It really gets people to think about the program and the solutions.”

Thirty Under 30 participants are split into six teams of five people, where they work with nonprofit organizations, spending time volunteering, getting to know organizers and the client base before working toward solutions to help the organizations become more effective. Craft is on a team paired up with Ford Mobile Food Pantry and Steinman is on a team paired up with Yad Ezra, a food pantry focused on hunger in the Jewish community.

A design mindset is not problem-focused, its solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future.

“Design thinking is a more systematic way of approaching situations. It focuses on immersing yourself and digging deep to find the real root issues. We then work as a team to find unique solutions; The sky is the limit. This program took me out of my comfort zone and brought an understanding I didn’t have before. I didn’t understand there was a need in my community for more kosher foods at food pantries,” said Steinman, EDS design & release engineer for Ford. “I’ve learned so much from this experience. Looking at different ways of solving problems is a process I can apply to my everyday job and life situations.”

Steinman’s group focused on how to help the small staff at Yad Ezra continue to feed thousands more efficiently. They looked at everything from how to create a better system to make sure there was a manageable ratio of clients and volunteers to developing useful easy to read manuals and succession plans in case staff members were to leave or become sick.

“A lot of people don’t realize that most food pantries don’t have kosher food, or at least don’t have a wide variety of it. Yad Ezra helps supplement the needs of the Jewish community,” Steinman said. “I really enjoy my job at Ford and I’m humbled to have the opportunity to be a part of this program. It gives me a sense of pride being able to help other people in the community. I learn so much that I often times I get back just as much or more than I give.”

After volunteering with the Ford Mobile Food Pantry, Craft’s team spoke with community members who benefited from the services in Metro Detroit and food pantry organizers in order to create an updated, more advanced mobile food pantry.

“We were able to help create solutions, not just donate time or money. It really empowers you to gain empathy for the people you are working with,” Craft said. “You aren’t just asking yes or no questions. It really gets people to think about the program and the solutions. You meet people who use the vans in the community.

“As engineers you really hammer into your brain that everything needs a measurable. This program has taught me to really look into what else matters. Look at the truths from another perspective.”

Craft learned about food and security in Metro Detroit and in the country as a whole. He was taught the value of volunteering when he was involved in Greek life at Kettering and having the opportunity with Thirty Under 30 allowed him to expand on that experience.

“There are holes in our system. There are people who need our help,” Craft said. “This program and different way of thinking teaches you to appreciate what you don’t see and what you aren’t necessarily thinking about. It teaches you to look outside the numbers. We need to look at the individual rather than the aggregate.

“I think it’s great that Ford is focusing on how to help the community and really trying to get young people's opinions on what they want to do and how they want to help the community.”

Written By Sarah Schuch | Contact: Sarah Schuch - - (810) 762-9639